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Tesco is removing ‘best before’ labels to help cut down on food waste

Tesco has announced that it will no longer use ‘best before dates’ on many of its fresh products.
The consumption guidance dates will be removed from nearly 70 fruit and vegetable lines, which the retailer says will help to reduce the amount of edible food that gets thrown away.

Apples, potatoes, tomatoes, lemons and other citrus fruit and onions are among the items to have their labels changed. ‘Best before’ labels are put on a wide-range of foods as an indicator of quality. ‘When the date is passed, it doesn’t mean that the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavour and texture,’ NHS guidelines state.

MORE: ICELAND SUPERMARKET IS TRIALLING A REVERSE VENDING MACHINE They differ to ‘use by’ dates, which are found on foods that go off quickly, like fish, meat and ready-prepared salads. The NHS advises to avoid using use any food or drink after the end of the ‘use by’ label, ‘even if it looks and smells fine’.

After research by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes found that less than half of respondents understood the meaning of ‘best before’ dates, Tesco hopes the changes to its packaging will prevent consumable food from going to waste. ‘We know some customers may be confused by the difference between “best before” and “use by” dates on food and this can lead to perfectly edible items being thrown away before they need to be discarded,’ Tesco Head of Food Waste Mark Little explains. ‘We have made this change to fruit and vegetable packaging as they are among the most wasted foods.

Many customers have told us that they assess their fruit and vegetables by the look of the product rather than the “best before” date code on the packaging.’ Anti-waste campaign organisation WRAP has estimated that changes to product labelling could prevent around 350,000 tonnes of avoidable food waste (with a value of around GBP1 billion a year). The group says that giving consumers longer to make use of the food they buy has the potential to radically reduce this figure.


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